The Dolphin Show prepares for first in-person audience since 2019


Photo courtesy of Owen Kiley

The Dolphin Show cast gathering for a table read-through in Fall Quarter. The 79th Annual Dolphin Show is Stephen Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along,” with performances on Jan. 28 and 29.

Kaila Nichols, Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor

The Dolphin Show will return to Cahn Auditorium next week to perform for an in-person audience for the first time since 2019.

“Merrily We Roll Along,” to be performed on Jan. 28 and 29, follows the lives of Frank Shepard and his friends Mary and Charley as they navigate the choices they make personally and professionally. The show tells their story in reverse order, working its way back in time with each scene until the group is in their twenties, aspiring to change the world with their art.

According to Communication senior and Director Nora Geffen, the story is about growing up and how people’s choices end up defining them.

Communication junior August Blanco Rosenstein, who plays Frank, describes him as someone who started out as a good friend with the drive to make his dreams come true, but ultimately lost his way.

“Eventually, for a number of reasons, he just keeps making decisions throughout his adult life that I suppose take him further and further from who he always meant to be (and) who he said he was when he was a young man,” Rosenstein said.

Communication senior Maddie Mazzella, who plays Gussie, Frank’s second wife, said she couldn’t imagine a better show to be in during her last year at Northwestern. She said the timely story and its message is something that NU students can relate to.

“The show really captures that mix of feelings of anticipation, anxiety and excitement and what happens when choices you make go wrong,” Mazzella said.

For the students involved, this is a meaningful way to reflect on the legacy of composer Stephen Sondheim, who died in November.

Geffen said Sondheim’s music was one of the reasons she wanted to do the show.

“There’s no other composer like him,” Geffen said. “We’ve already been in conversation about him since the very beginning of the process.”

The Dolphin Show has also been having ongoing conversations surrounding diversity and inclusion. This year, Communication junior Mark Berry, the director of education, inclusion, and diversity, led an inclusive design workshop showing the team how designers can ensure costumes, makeup and lighting choices showcase all people onstage.

Wildcat Wellness posed challenges to the preparation process, as the initial plan was to stage and block the show during the two-week period. However, the team continued their work virtually.

“We definitely tried. We did some weird screen sharing with a picture of the stage and then we (had) them annotate their blocking,” Geffen said.

The group hopes this is an opportunity for the NU community to see what student theatre can offer, Mazzella said.

Bringing the show back this year is exciting for Communication senior and Business Producer Owen Kiley, who has been part of The Dolphin Show since his freshman year.

“It’s just truly such a magical and wonderful experience. It really showcases the work of so many talented theatre students on campus,” Kiley said. “I’m very excited for everyone to be able to see the work that all 160 of our team members have put in to make the show super awesome.”

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